Jo-Ann W. Davis ’76

Retired Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Baystate Health

What advice would you give to a girl graduating from Williston today?   

There is so much advice to give, but here are some thoughts on what I believe are guiding principles: Follow your dreams, reach for what you think is the impossible, because you will learn that it was not impossible after all.  Resist every temptation to doubt your capabilities. Honesty, integrity and humility are essential no matter what your pursuit. Fiercely protect your reputation and credibility, always. Be kind and respectful to others, no matter what their status or level in life or in business.  Listen more, talk less.  Do not be a complainer or “problem-finder”…be an optimistic, thoughtful “problem-solver”.  Remember that when preparation and opportunity intersect, great things happen.  Never lose your sense of humor. And finally, always be on time!

Tell us about a woman who is your hero and why?

This is an easy answer for me.  The woman who I have most admired, and who has been my inspiration, is my mother, Angela Wright.  She was a bold woman, before it was popular to be one!  She has spent her life as a community servant, and as a pioneer and advocate for the less fortunate, doing so in very meaningful and tangible ways. She has spent a life time channeling her energy, talents and resources to make the world a better place for the less advantaged. There is not enough space to list her accomplishments, but the work most near and dear to her is advocacy and support for young, teenage women with children, who could not pursue their education and career because of their life circumstances, whether it be living in poverty, or abandoned by their families, or being in abusive relationships.  To address this issue, she founded the Care Center, in Holyoke. Today, a nationally recognized model for providing young women with support, including housing and childcare, to complete high school, engage in artistic and athletic pursuits, and to prepare for college and careers.  Hundreds of young women have graduated and have been able to pursue their own dreams, careers and to support their families.  My mother is 87 and still actively involved in doing this work!  She did not just talk about serving others….she dug in, rolled up her sleeves, relentlessly pressed forward, and has clearly improved other people’s lives.  How many of us can truly say that about our own life pursuits or work?  She is a true “she-ro”!

What do you think is next for women in your professional field?

I think women in the legal field and in health care have achieved great success, in many domains, and will continue to do so.  I think the challenge will continue to be how women gain ground in accessing or achieving CEO or C-Suite level roles.

What motivates you in your work and life?

What motivates me is gratitude….gratitude that I have had the freedom, ability, support and resources to pursue my goals and dreams, both personal and professional.  And now I am examining how I can channel that to “pay it forward” in the most meaningful way possible to benefit others.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

See my answer to the first question!